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Formation of COVID-19 policy must cope with substantial uncertainties about the nature of the disease, the dynamics of transmission, and behavioral responses. Data uncertainties limit knowledge of the trajectory of the pandemic and the effectiveness of treatments. Data and modeling uncertainties limit our ability to predict the impacts of alternative policies. I describe work quantifying basic data uncertainties. I explain why current epidemiological and macroeconomic modeling cannot deliver realistically optimal policy. I discuss approaches for policy choice that face up to uncertainty and specifically suggest adaptive policy diversification. Possible applications of adaptive diversification include choice between suppression and mitigation strategies and choice of a process to allocate vaccines.

Professor Charles F. Manski

Short Biography

CHARLES F. MANSKI has been Board of Trustees Professor in Economics at Northwestern University since 1997. He previously was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1983-98), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1979-83), and Carnegie Mellon University (1973-80). He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in economics from M. I. T. in 1970 and 1973. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ (2006) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2018). Manski=s research spans econometrics, judgment and decision, and analysis of public policy. He is author of Patient Care under Uncertainty (Princeton, 2019), Public Policy in an Uncertain World (Harvard 2013), Identification for Prediction and Decision (Harvard 2007), Social Choice with Partial Knowledge of Treatment Response (Princeton 2005), Partial Identification of Probability Distributions (Springer, 2003), Identification Problems in the Social Sciences (Harvard 1995), and Analog Estimation Methods in Econometrics (Chapman & Hall, 1988), and co-author of College Choice in America (Harvard 1983). He has served as Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty (1988-91), Chair of the Board of Overseers of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (1994-98), and Chair of the National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs (1998-2001). Editorial service includes terms as editor of the Journal of Human Resources (1991-94), co-editor of the Econometric Society Monograph Series (1983-88), member of the Editorial Board of the Annual Review of Economics (2007-13), and member of the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (2010-18). Manski is an elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, the American Statistical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.